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Mallya yacht party opens Monaco weekend in style 25 May 2012

Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas with Force India chairman Vijay Mallya at Mallya’s annual Monte Carlo yacht party, Monaco, May 24 2012 Atmosphere at Vijay Mallya’s annual Monte Carlo yacht party, Monaco, May 24 2012 Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg with Robert Fernley, Force India deputy team principal, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, TV presenter Natalie Pinkham and Force India chairman Vijay Mallya at Mallya’s annual Monte Carlo yacht party, Monaco, May 24 2012 Atmosphere at Vijay Mallya’s annual Monte Carlo yacht party, Monaco, May 24 2012

The Cannes film festival may still be in full flow, but even Hollywood couldn’t resist celebrating the opening night of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend on Thursday. Force India boss Vijay Mallya welcomed a who’s-who of the silver screen and Formula One racing to the gangplank of his mega yacht, the Indian Empress, for his now traditional Monte Carlo party.

Shunning his peers further down the Cote d’Azur, Spanish actor and director Antonio Banderas was among the cinematic draws at the Indian-themed event. The star of Shrek sequel Puss in Boots, the Mask of Zorro and Evita talked shop with fellow actor Michael Fassbender, who will soon be seen in Ridley Scott’s highly-anticipated Alien prequel, Prometheus.

Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone led the Formula One contingent, alongside CVC’s Donald McKenzie, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, Lotus counterpart Eric Boullier, the inimitable Eddie Jordan, former world champion Damon Hill and, of course, Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg.

Although there was heart-thumping music aplenty, there were other forms of entertainment available onboard. Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas Casino mogul who is said to have inspired Ocean’s Eleven character Terry Benedict, regaled an appreciative audience with the story of how his German Shepherd dog once took too much of a shine to Bernie Ecclestone’s nose, prompting Ecclestone to joke about the canine’s excellent taste in food.

Elsewhere, Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson joined some of the 600 guests in throwing some shapes on the dance floor, whilst Banderas took to the yacht’s piano to play some tunes to a lucky few. Also in attendance was Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins American football team and an investor in several US broadcasting companies, who is no doubt is in Monaco this weekend to get a feel for Formula One racing ahead of its return to the United States in November.

With the champagne flowing throughout, and the last guests leaving only as dawn broke across the Mediterranean, it was once again a night to remember. Mallya, and those lucky enough to attend, all agreed it had been his best party yet. Now the challenge is on to improve on it at next year’s race…

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